The Mignonnes Question
Frenchwoman Maïmouna Doucouré, who wrote and directed ‘Cuties’ (English translation), a film which has sparked an online petition calling for it’s removal from Netflix’s streaming platform, has defended her work against the scrutiny it has come under (largely as a result of the way Netflix chose to represent her film), by asserting that we need to not “blame the girls” in these potentially accurate portrayals of their lives and behaviors.
As one of the many who has not seen the film, I have seen the promotional material: a still image from the film and text provided by an unknown individual describing a girl “who becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew“. The children are eleven years old. The young actors are striking poses that are not hard to see as sexually suggestive. New to social media, my burgeoning role as SJW internet troll is shocking to me, mostly in my quick adaptation to this drug. Perusing the pile-on, there were shades of every argument: from people who had seen the film, explaining that it was about the sexploitation of young females; to people who, enraged, called for it to be removed from the streaming platform altogether.
The alarming normalization of sexualizing children has long been evident in Netflix.
Perhaps not so blatantly as now, but children’s, particularly girl’s, sexualization of themselves (by the age of seven according to Dr. Jessica Taylor) is something that has also long existed in this and other modern, civilized cultures and I would argue, needs to be addressed.
As the creatrix of this soft-core child pornography, Doucouré has here deflected the legitimate question about her responsibility as storyteller to the “sex-worker” argument.
No one said anything about blaming the girls.
The argument against pornography is that real people, in this case eleven year old girls, do the things in real life, in front of a camera. In the case of feature films, often exhaustively with rehearsals, memorization and multiple takes [nearly 700 underage girls auditioned for the lead roles]. It is not just a story anymore. It is perpetuation. Psychically, it is normalization, not a challenge, for participants and audience both.
The shame never belonged to the exploited. To have been exploited is a hard thing to admit in a culture that believes that the shame does belong to the exploited. I think that explains much of the drive toward liberal feminism among young women who do not have direct experience with, or on whose livelihood still depends the pay-for-rape industrial spectrum.
I agree that the film should be taken down, but the story will and must be told.
Disappearing unpleasant or untrue or unwanted theories, arguments or stories transforms them from reasoned, hard “No“s back into question marks.
Trinity La Fey is a smith of many crafts, has been a small business creatrix since 2020; published author; appeared in protests since 2003, poetry performances since 2001; officiated public ceremony since 1999; and participated in theatrical performances since she could get people to sit still in front of her.
Featured image: Mignonnes film poster.